Matthew 20:28, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Several years ago I read an article written by a man. He asked three questions during the writing effort about the atonement, specifically what Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross. His three questions:
Did Jesus die for all the sins of all the people? Or
Did Jesus die for some of the sins of some of the people? Or
Did Jesus die for all of the sins of some of the people?
A diligent effort, using scripture, to answer those three questions will help the Bible student come to a scriptural position concerning the atonement. If Jesus died for “all” the sins of “all” the people, why or how could anyone be in hell? The Lord is a righteous judge, if there is no sin He will not condemn. If Jesus died for “some” of the sins of “some” of the people, none will be in heaven, because no one besides God has anything to offer to God for sin. Again, God is a righteous judge and He will not declare the unrighteous to be righteous. If Jesus died for “all” of the sins of “some” of the people, that would explain why some are in heaven and some are in hell. As a side note, the “some” is a number no man can number out of every kindred, tongue people and nation (Revelation 5:9).
Our study verse teaches us at least three things:
(1) Why Jesus came into the world (“came not to be ministered unto”). The Lord didn’t come into this world to be ministered unto, but to minister. He came into this world to do, He came into this world to work. And work He did. John 21:25, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”
(2) What the Lord accomplished while in the world (“give his life a ransom”). The Lord gave His precious life a ransom, or purchased redemptive price, for His people. The Lord’s people (the elect) are captive to death, hell, sin and the grave. He came into this world and paid the entire price that they would be set free and returned to Him. 1 Peter 2:24-25, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”
(3) Who did Jesus die for (“for many”). When we consider the subject of “a ransom” it will always be specific. If my children were taken captive and the capturers demanded a ransom, the ransom I pay will not be for everyone who has ever been captured, but for my children in specific. When the Lord paid the ransom, it was for His children. Election and predestination teaches us that the Lord had a people before the world began. Those people were separated from Him because of sin. He came into this world and gave His life for the elect. Matthew 1:21, “And she shall bring forth a son’ and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” John 6:37-39, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” Amen!